Six-cylinder symphony: A Benelli Sei café racer from Portugal

Benelli 900 Sei café racer by Unik Edition
If you’ve never heard a six-cylinder motorcycle at full tilt, you’re missing out. It’s nothing short of a mechanical symphony—or, if you’re Portuguese, a ‘sinfonia.’ That’s the nickname that Lisbon’s Unik Edition has given their latest project; a screaming, six-cylinder Benelli Sei café racer.

The Benelli Sei might not be the most recognizable classic six-cylinder motorcycle (that honor belongs to the Honda CBX), but it was the first six-cylinder production bike to hit the market. Benelli released the 750 Sei in the early 70s, then followed it up with the redesigned 900 Sei in 1979, which boasted an 80 hp output and angular bodywork. Only 2,000 units of the Benelli 900 Sei were produced, and they were not cheap.

Benelli 900 Sei café racer by Unik Edition
Unik Edition founders Tiago Gonçalves and Luis Gonçalves (not brothers) kicked this project off with a 1979 Benelli 900 Sei, but very little of the original bike remains. Tiago and Luis stripped the bike down to its frame and engine, and replaced or rebuilt everything else.

“The aim was to create an incredible piece with six exhausts, but easy to drive,” says Tiago.

Benelli 900 Sei café racer by Unik Edition
To make sure they were building on a good foundation, the guys gave the engine a solid refresh and tune-up. They’ve serviced several six-cylinder Benellis and Hondas, so they know their way around these monstrous motors. The Sei’s three Dell’Orto carbs (yes, three) breathe through new pod filters.

It’s when Tiago and Luis moved to the chassis that things really got interesting. First, they hacked off the factory subframe and fabricated a new one, then they trimmed the frame in some areas and reinforced it in others. All of this was child’s play compared to the swingarm swap that Unik had in mind.

Benelli 900 Sei café racer by Unik Edition
The plan was to mate the single-sided swingarm from an early-2000s Ducati Monster S4R to the 1979 Benelli chassis. The first challenge was to redesign the rear end with a new shock mount, converting it from a vintage dual- to a modern mono-shock setup. The next was re-aligning everything, from the swingarm pivot to the sprockets, to accommodate a 190-wide rear tire.

It’s a radical change, but it’s well-executed. Complemented by a set of upside-down sportbike forks, and a pair of Kineo wire-spoke wheels, the rolling chassis is flawless.

Benelli 900 Sei café racer by Unik Edition
Next on the list was the Benelli Sei’s elegant new café racer-inspired bodywork. The Sei came from the factory with molded bodywork that covered a separate fuel tank. Unik threw most of that in the bin, save for a small piece of the tank cover.

A new monocoque body was designed using 3D software, then 3D-printed molds were used to shape the final part out of carbon fiber. It’s adorned with a pleated seat and a neatly integrated taillight.

Benelli 900 Sei café racer by Unik Edition
Unik originally wanted to retain the original fuel cell underneath the new body, but ended up fabricating new fuel and oil tanks out of aluminum instead. That allowed them to make space for the bike’s battery under the body too, along with a compact Motogadget control box, around which the whole bike has been rewired.

A custom headlight nacelle sits up front, fitted with an LED light. Lower down, a new front fender adds a little retro superbike flair.

Benelli 900 Sei café racer by Unik Edition
The rider looks down on a digital Motogadget speedo, neatly molded into the headlight housing. The German electronics company also supplied the switches, grips, keyless RFID ignition, and bar-end turn signals and mirrors. The handlebars are from LSL, and the throttle is a Domino part.

Out back, a tidy license plate bracket puts the plate behind the rear wheel without adding unnecessary length to the tail section. It wears a Koso license plate light and a pair of tiny Motogadget LED turn signals.

Benelli 900 Sei café racer by Unik Edition
Finishing things off is the cornerstone of any good six-cylinder custom build; the exhaust. Unik Edition built a complete six-into-six system out of stainless steel, with three stubby mufflers stacked on either side.

With the stance, silhouette, and soundtrack all sorted, Tiago and Luis finished the Benelli off with a chic white and green paint job. Gold pin-stripes add a touch of class, red accents tip their hat to the Italian flag, and a checkered stripe across the top recalls the British café racers of yore.

Benelli 900 Sei café racer by Unik EditionFresher than the smell of grass after a rainstorm, Unik’s Benelli is begging to be ridden. Just imagine unleashing that six-cylinder symphony on the sunny streets of Lisbon…

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Benelli 900 Sei café racer by Unik Edition